The complexity of Marie Henein

I admit it, I loved Marie Henein’s column in this past Thursday’s Globe and Mail.  It was so timely, so well-articulated, so powerful.

I loved her statement, ‘Donald Trump isn’t the first demagogue to be carried to power – and carried he was’.

Demagogue, as defined by Wikipedia: ‘a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument’.  Sounds about right.

I also have to say that I had to gut-check myself when I admitted that I was loving a feminist article written by the lawyer who defended Jian Ghomeshi.

During the Ghomeshi trial, I wondered what Marie Henein’s motivations were.  She’s clearly a strong, motivated and accomplished person.

And then I landed on my hypothesis: Henein believes in defending and improving the legal system that we have (seems pretty basic).  Maybe she chose to defend Mr. Ghomeshi because she believed in ensuring that the system protects people on both sides, and because this trial would be precedent-setting.  Because precedents are important.  Or maybe she was making a play for her firm.  Or maybe she wanted to show that a feminist could play on both sides of the equation.

The court of public opinion convicted Jian Ghomeshi as guilty.  I will admit that I’m in that camp.  I don’t have any strong beliefs that he was guilty of the specific charges brought forth in the trial.  I do, however, know that there is a lot of narratives indicating that he had a deep-seated belief of being, in some way, superior to women – or that women owed him something.  Which is a terrifying.

Marie Henein is complex.  And I love that.  I’ll go with what she said about the matter of defending Mr. Ghomeshi: “I am not conflicted about being a strong feminist and what I do in court. I just don’t feel a need to justify what I do or explain myself.”

I don’t know her, and chances are that I will never meet her.  I’ll likely never know the specific reasons she chose to defend Mr. Ghomeshi.  But I admire her complexity.

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